Saturday, October 31, 2015

My Tribe's Vibe: Last 31 Days Post

Dear kind reader,

I'm done.

If my Lou's grandmother were alive, she'd correct me with, "Cakes are done. People are finished."

Haha. Ok. That too.

This is the last of My Tribe's Vibe: 31 Days. Thank you, thank you, for stopping by this month. Your kind words of encouragement and "Likes" on my fb page mean more than you know.

As I've contemplated how to tie this up, I Corinthians 13, the famous Love chapter, keeps coming to mind.

Because, in the end, in all we do, it matters that we love.

My former pastor defined love as "doing what is best for someone in the long run." I think that's pretty spot on. Maybe contemplating that sentence and reading through I Corinthians 13 on a regular basis would help me keep my focus where it needs to be. It'd help me keep my prayers where they need to be.

Because, I can have every "policy" and have been as proactive as I know how to be, but if I don't have love, I am a noisy gong and clanging symbol. I am nothing. And I do not want to go there.

But I do want to tell you who has loved me very well during this last month. There are only 2 who now hang out with me on a daily basis.

Mary Grace and Lou

This pair has taken up so much slack this month. I'd say, "I have to go get this blog done," and disappear for a while, and they'd do what I didn't have time to do. They've encouraged me, stayed up late with me, and humored me during this 31 day marathon. Thank you, Lou and Mary Grace.

Also feeling very thankful to God for the gift of my Tribe. Sometimes I am overcome with how much I love these 7 people (now 8, with our Hannah's dear Alex!).  They know me like no one else does on this planet, and they still love me.

I am blessed.

(For the list and links to all 31 posts, click here.)

Gonna end with some of my favorite pictures of the Tribe :)

Friday, October 30, 2015

My Tribe's Vibe: On Tiptoe

Of late, I've had a prevailing picture in my mind,

and a prevailing prayer on my heart. 

Lord, help me to be standing on tiptoe today - eagerly waiting, eagerly watching, eagerly listening - ready to see what you're gonna do next.

I've spent time this month looking back and thinking about the vibe associated with my tribe. It's been a sweet journey for me, and I hope, a helpful one for some of you. :) As wonderful as looking back and remembering is, it's not where we are to spend the majority of our time. 

We glance back and praise God for his faithfulness to us, but then, we look up, look forward and get on our tiptoes - ready and expectant - for what God is going to do today in us, through us, to us, and for us. 

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13).

Some of what will be the fulfilling of his good purpose will be easy and labeled blessing - an easy grace. Some of what will be the fulfilling of his good purpose will be hard and labeled suffering - a hard grace.

But in either case, God, who is completely trustworthy, works in us, and that is powerful, purposeful and eternal. 

It is not for nothing.
It is worth standing on tiptoe to see.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

My Tribe's Vibe: Unfiltered

"I like your email." 

Those were my husband's words to me early this morning. He had just seen the one I wrote and the recipient's reply. They both had to do with a frustrating situation we are dealing with.

My response to my hubby was, "I was very nice."

As soon as I said that, I thought about this blog post and my prayer emphasis and how we don't have to be very nice when we pray.

The email Lou complimented was nice, but it was completely different than the one I really wanted to write. That one needed filtering before it reached the intended recipient.

Thankfully, our prayers don't need filtering. They don't need to be "nice." God knows exactly how we feel and think and invites us in Psalm 18 to cry out to him.

In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.

And in Job 7:11...

“Therefore I will not restrain my mouth;
    I will speak in the anguish of my spirit;
    I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.

In my journals, I've found a few of those unfiltered prayers. Most are too personal to share here. But I am sharing one (after blacking out some irrelevant words and a child's name) because I know I cannot be the only mom who has had these thoughts and cried out to God for help. Maybe you need to hear that you are not alone.

November 12, 2002

I'm hurting with the kids right now. It seems they are not thoughtful to each other. I rebel against this sibling rivalry. I also feel they are not as respectful toward me as they should be. Do I drive them to it? Am I a nag? I feel like if I'd done everything like I was supposed to, then they wouldn't rebel. ______ sometimes looks at me like I'm from outer space. Please Lord, draw the hearts of my children to each other and to Lou & me.

Maybe you also need to hear that God will help you through these kinds of hard. He is a great big God who loves His children. So don't hesitate to pray. 

Pray unfiltered. 
Pray real.

He likes those kind of prayers.
And, He will help.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

My Tribe's Vibe: Smiling and Laughing

Oh how glad I am that I took the time to write down some of the everyday things that happened when the kids were little! This journal review I've been doing this week has been a blast. I have smiled and laughed and remembered. 

And thanked God. 

But before you think I was super organized and documented our life neatly, here's Exhibit A:

yay for sticky notes!

I was grabbing any piece of paper I had handy to write it down as soon as I could because I was afraid I would forget exactly what they said! All I know is that now, I don't care what they're written on - I'm just glad they're written! So many of the stories I don't remember. That makes me sad, but c'est la vie. At least I can still read about them!

I'm going to share a couple of prayer stories I found with you today. 

In November of 2003, when our Faith was 9, she had an episode of weakness in her hand and a little slurred speech.

That, my friends, was a scary morning. 

It happened right before I was taking the kids to school, so we threw everyone in the car to drop them off there and then I headed straight to my doctor husband's office. Here's what happened in the car that morning according to my journal entry.

A very humorous event happened the morning of Faith's episode. As usual, I say a prayer on the way to school. Before we'd gotten in the car, Faith told us how nauseated she was. I had told her a couple of times to "go ahead and throw up." (She had a bucket with her). So, we're in the car and I start out saying "Dear Jesus," when I heard a groan from Faith and so I said, "go ahead and throw up if you have to." And then I finished my prayer. Before I was done, David was laughing his head off. When I asked him why he was laughing, he said, "Mom, did you hear what you prayed?" I said, "What?" He said, "You prayed, 'Dear Jesus, go ahead and throw up if you have to!'"

(In case you are wondering, her symptoms were caused by an atypical migraine - she's all good, PTL)

The second story I don't remember at all, but once I read it, I could see it happening.

This entry is dated December 12, 2005. Mary Grace was homeschooled at the time.

Mary Grace was piddling while she was supposed to be doing math. 
I said, "Mary Grace, get busy so you can get done with your stuff."
She said, "I don't want to do it! I want you to do it for me!"
I said, "Well, that's not going to happen."
To which she replied, "Yes, it is. I prayed for it."

It's good to smile and laugh, isn't it? 

Here's praying we all spend more time smiling and laughing while we do everyday life with our tribes!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

My Tribe's Vibe: Other People to the Rescue

Prayer is hard for me. 

I have good intentions, and then I get distracted. Most mornings, I get up in time to spend quality time praying and reading my Bible, but some of those days, I spend a chunk of that time checking twitter, Facebook, and the news instead. 

So frustrating. Not because it's a sin to check the news, twitter and fb, but because of timing. Time I've designated to spend doing one thing, I waste doing another. I'm choosing to play with mudpies in the slums when a holiday at the sea is offered.**

So, one of the reasons prayer is hard is distractions.  

Another reason it's hard for me is that sometimes, I don't know what to say. 

I mean, I do know what to say, but I can start praying and I end up saying the same things. Even though I mean what I'm saying, sometimes, it just doesn't feel "fresh."

When this is the vibe I've got going, I do a couple of things, but I'm only going to talk about one of them today.

I pray other people's prayers.  

Have you ever tried this? It can be so powerful.

Maybe you're thinking that praying someone else's prayer means that your prayer won't be genuine, because you didn't think up the words. I guess that would depend on what prayer you are praying! I have found a couple of prayers, that when I read them, everything in me went, "Yes! Yes!" These prayers say what my heart's cry is. I haven't arrived where these prayers are, but it's what I ache for. 

I had forgotten about this first one until I found it in one of my journals when I was looking for material for this week's posts. I'm glad I found it.

So powerful.

Cursive translation:

Powerful Prayer
       by A.W. Tozer in The Pursuit of God

Father, I want to know thee, but my cowardly heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from Thee the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from my heart all those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that Thou mayest enter and dwell there without a rival. Then shalt Thou make the place of thy feet glorious. Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for Thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall be no night there. 
                                                               In Jesus' name,

The second prayer I want to share I heard about from Elisabeth Elliot, who copied Betty Scott Stam's prayer down when she was a young girl. I copied it into the flyleaf of my Bible in 2005.

 Betty Scott Stam's Prayer

        "Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes, and accept thy will for my life. I give myself, my life, my all utterly to thee to be thine forever. Fill me and seal me with thy Holy spirit. Use me as thou wilt, send me where thou wilt, work out Thy whole will in my life at any cost, now and forever."

Tomorrow, I'm hoping the distractions aren't distracting. 

And tomorrow, I'm praying those two prayers.

**“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” 

C.S. Lewis

To end, I'll include four books of prayers that I use off and on to help me pray for those I love. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

My Tribe's Vibe: My Go-To

This one is with me for as long as God gives me a mind to think with and I'm alive on this earth.

And it's as easy as A-B-C.

-This is my go to when I can't fall asleep at night, or when I wake up in the middle of the night and can't go back to sleep.
-When I'm so stressed I feel like my heart might beat out of my chest, I do this.

And did I mention, it's as easy as A-B-C?

I recite/pray the attributes of God using the letters of the alphabet.

I first heard about this when I used this book while we were homeschooling. 

It is an amazing book, and one I would highly recommend using with your 7, 8, 9, or 10 year old child even if you hate homeschooling! It teaches such high, true things about our great God. You could do it around the table after the evening meal, or with your children before bed. So, so good.

The table of contents looks like this:

These are the first attributes of God I ever associated with the ABCs. My children used to be able to recite the list from memory. I'll have to ask the only one left at home if she still can ;). 

Anyway, sometime after this, a good friend mentioned that when she was having one of those days when everything seemed to be coming apart at the seams, she would stop and go through the attributes of God using the letters of the alphabet. She'd never seen this book, she just thought them up as she went through the alphabet. 

That resonated with me. How cool to have an easy way to immediately think about our great, big, good, God! When my thoughts sometimes start to spin out of control with worry or fear, God gently nudges my heart with "Who do you serve, Shelley?"

And I can think/pray: "You God. And 

God, you are: Amazing,
                      Dear to me,
                     More than I could hope for,
                     Quite amazing!
                     Young (?) (Ageless) (Y is hard!)

I made that list up out of my head just now without looking at the attributes listed in the picture above. Could you tell?;) But, the "real" one above is an amazing list, so use it if you want! Every time I think through the attributes, they are different. And, full disclosure here, I rarely make it through the entire alphabet. But that's not really the point, is it? 

The point is to remind myself of who God is. To remind myself that he is able. To remind myself that He loves me. To remind myself of who I am before Him. To remind myself that our God is incredible. If He is my savior, this creator God is for me (Romans 8:31) and will help (Psalm 121:2).

Sometimes I'm blown away by the fact that I can think about anything I want to. God has given me that great gift. Then I'm blown away even more that I can think and pray, and the creator of the entire universe hears me.

Yes, this one is with me for as long as I'm alive on this earth, and God gives me a mind to think with.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

My Tribe's Vibe: The Homestretch

I'm in the homestretch of Write 31 Days.

Homestretches are hard yet hopeful. They're hard because you tend to be weary. A lot of energy has gone into getting you to this place of "almost there." And to get through the homestretch takes perseverance.

They're hopeful because, so far, you've done what you set out to do, and you can see the finish line!

I think prayer is like a homestretch.
It's hard. It takes energy. It takes perseverance.

It's hopeful because we are praying to a great God. A great God who keeps his promises.

So it seems fitting to fill this blogging homestretch with prayers.

In preparation for these last few posts, I glanced through some of my old journals to see if I had written down any of my thoughts on prayer or if I written out any of my prayers. I had. Here's something I wrote back in 2007.

Can you read it?
It says:

June 7, 2007

Convicted today to be thankful  for my husband and my children. I'm always praying "help them" prayers or "change them" prayers, but I've been forgetting to pray "thank you, Lord, for who you've created them to be. Thank you Lord, for their unique gifts and abilities and who you've created them to be."

You wouldn't think I'd forget to be thankful for the unique people I love the most in the world, would you?

Sometimes I forget the really important stuff.

I'm hoping my time in this homestretch will remind me.

Our group climbing the Homestretch on Long's Peak (I didn't hike this, but most of my family did.)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

My Tribe's Vibe: A Headphone Manifesto

Well, just so you know...some of my adult children don't agree with some parts of my vibe on this topic today and did not agree on it back when. When this debatable topic comes up now,  I remind them that they can do things totally different with their kids. That's when they remind me, they will.

Good naturedly, of course :).

When our children were living under our roof, headphones (earbuds, etc) were absent, both in our home and in our car. Even on long trips. Like across Kansas. 

Before I say why we did that, I want to clarify something. 

I don't hate headphones. I have some and enjoy them. But when we started this parenting journey, and we were thinking about some of the values we hoped to instill in our children, it seemed like headphone use by our kids would hinder more than help us. Why make this parenting thing any harder than it has to be?

So, here's why headphones were absent:

-Lou and I purposely controlled what was played in the car because we wanted to introduce them to different genres and enjoy it with them. We played hours of (mostly) high quality children's music. And yes, even though it was high quality, it drove us to distraction at times. The Donut Man was a go to in this area. We played hours of good radio drama, introducing our children to stories like The Secret Garden, The Chronicles of Narnia, Little Women, and The Back of the North Wind. We'd also listen to Christian, Rock, Christian Rap, Classical and Country music, always monitoring the lyrics, because lyrics matter! We listened to favorite comedians. We listened to hours upon hours of Adventures in Odyssey, a family favorite to this day.

-Listening to all the above together gave us a shared memory. Conversations today are still peppered with quotes from things heard during car trips past.

-Listening to all the above together - especially the stories and the Odyssey broadcasts - launched conversations about easy and difficult life situations. Discussing how those scenarios were handled before you find yourself in the heat of a similar situation was safe and invaluable for when the real thing came along. 

-We were trying to instill appreciation for others.  I was about to say "appreciation for other's music, but it was more than that. We wanted them to see their siblings interests as...interesting! Each one of our children had their favorite music, and as the children grew older, we'd try to accommodate that preference by giving each one control of the music for allotted amounts of time. And so, for instance, Luke, who is 9 years older than Mary Grace, would get to hear what she liked, and she would get to hear what he liked. When he was 16 and she was 7, that was very different! But I hoped they learned a little about give and take and about patience. It certainly kept the music in the car varied! 

-We wanted them to be present. We didn't love them retreating into their own world when others were around. We didn't want them to miss out on the ambient conversation. It's not like we were trying to say a bunch of profound things, we were just talking. But when you listen to others talk - even when they aren't talking to you - you pick up information about life and relationships. 

Because our children had never known anything different, this was not a big issue in our home, especially when they were small. As they aged, they would plead the headphone cause on occasion. Quite emphatically, too. So, Lou and I would revisit this issue when we were alone, and we always ended up where we started. In our family, no headphone use was a good thing. This was a big issue for us. And we liked where we stood.

Now that everybody's post high school age but one, we basically have a no comment policy on their use or non-use of headphones. (Well, I think if we were riding in the car somewhere together, and they started to put their headphones in, I'd pull the mom card, and say something.) They are adults and I hope they enjoy their headphones and are thoughtful, wise, and relational as they use them.  

If they happen to read this post and have forgotten the why behind the strict headphone policy we had when they were growing up, now I have refreshed their memory.

I hope they know it was strictly because we loved them.

Whatever your policy is about headphones, it's because you love your crew, too. Please know I mean no condemnation if your policy is diametrically opposed to ours. My heart is to provide a springboard of ideas for those a parenting step or two behind me. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

My Tribe's Vibe: Have Courage

I'm not exactly sure what I'm commending on this post, so I'll just describe the situation that illustrates it and see where it takes us.

One summer evening, my husband's sister was in town and we decided to take a walk after supper. We asked the two girls who were home and who had nothing to do, to go with us. They initially declined, expressing a desire to stay home and watch a movie. 

That didn't sit well with me. They were passing up time with real people for time with fake people. So, they changed their mind (with a little help) and came with us.

They were less than thrilled about it. They weren't super pouty, but the relationship vibe going on was less than optimum.

We decided to drive a short distance to a neighborhood with pretty houses and manicured yards. Upon arriving, we started our walk. The girls were good by now, making the best of what their mom had made them do. Easy conversation ebbed and flowed. About 20 minutes in, we approached the house of some people we know - who had children the same age as ours. Their children happened to be outside sliding away on their homemade slip'n slide. Those wet kids didn't waste any time inviting my two girls to join them. 

Of course, my girls were in walking clothes, but we all decided it was too fun a moment to pass up. Off to slip'n slide they went. My sister-in-law and I continued on our walk and the girls ended up staying until darkness stopped the sliding. 

I couldn't help but think about the fun they would have missed out on if they hadn't come on the walk with us. It was a moment that none of us could have predicted. But this moment was one we talked about later. 

We talked about how real people and real life trump recorded movies!
We talked about how you have to be living life (as opposed to watching life) to have completely spontaneous, unplanned, delightful moments happen!

And for me, I was glad I followed my gut that evening and made the girls do something they didn't want to do. I did it because I knew it was the better choice. When the girls balked, I doubted myself briefly, and almost let them do what they wanted. But then, I summoned my parental courage, and stuck to my guns. I was glad I did. They were glad I did.

This isn't a blanket endorsement that it's best to always make your child do what they don't want to do. That's not what I'm saying. We need discernment for each situation. But it is a post encouraging us all to have courage!

Have courage when we know we are doing/requiring a good thing even when our kids balk.
Have courage when the relationship vibes aren't ideal because of a decision - a right and good decision - we made.

We never know when a completely unplanned, delightful moment is right around the corner of that courageous decision!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

My Tribe's Vibe: Games I Play

You've gotta do what works, right?

For me, that sometimes includes playing pretend.

I don't do it to escape or while away the hours. I use it to motivate myself.

The other day, I was dragging my feet in cleaning up the kitchen after breakfast. It was more a case of  multitasking overload and misdirection as I was trying to do my work and check social media at the same time. (We all know which of those two dogs gets fed and which one gets starved.) The kitchen clock did its best to silently warn that time-was-a-wastin', but it wasn't until I played pretend that anything really happened.

Ok, Shelley. Stop. Pretend the President is going to be at your house in 30 minutes. 

Boom. That's all it took. I was up and going and focused.

Another handy motivating game I play is If you.

I put If you into action when I think something can't be done in the time allotted. Take these blog posts, for instance. I'm writing this one at 9:19 pm on the day it's due. I've had a full day and part of me started to excuse me and cut me some slack in posting one today. Part of me was beginning to think I couldn't get this done. 

But then If you popped into my head.

If you were going to get a million dollars once you published today's post, I bet you could get it done.

Yep, I could. 

I don't know why these silly games give me the kick in the pants I need sometimes, but they do. And somedays, you've just gotta do what works.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

My Tribe's Vibe: A Conflict Closer

A couple of posts back, I talked about the room. The room where confrontative conversations were held.

Ours were/are held in the utility room. I hated those times when I had to look at a child and say some of my least favorite words in the world: "Ok. To the utility room, please."

Please didn't even soften the weight of those words. When those words were said, everybody knew things were about to get serious.

They did, and I'm seriously glad most of those days are behind us. But I can tell you here that we ended every one of those little chats pretty much the same way - a way I would like to commend here.

It's not that I planned long ago that this would be a good way to end our utility room discipline dates. It just organically happened because these words had to be the last words. It was the main take away I wanted our children to remember.

When the discipline conversation was winding down, I felt the need to reassure my child (and me!) of what was most important. I'd say something like this:

"Do you know that everything Dad and I do we do because we love you? Are you 100% sure of that? I mean, you know we are in your corner - we are on your team - now and forever, right?"

They'd acknowledge that of course they did.

Then I'd continue. "We love you. We're not perfect, but we love you and under God, we are doing the best we know to do. 
We. love. you."

With that said, and because nobody felt much like hugging, we'd open the door and let the child retreat to another room. But they retreated with big, true words hanging in the air, and hopefully, landing in their heart.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

My Tribe's Vibe: A Lie

There were days when I believed a lie. 

A few examples of days when that happened were:

      - when I yelled at one or more of the kids

     -  when I felt like a complete failure at correcting them. I didn't know what to say, and what I did say came out all wrong and they didn't seem sorry and I fumbled all over the place with my words.

     - when I said something that, the minute I said it, and saw the look on their face, I knew I had crushed them. 

     - when I didn't follow through on something I said I would do.

     - when I was cranky and took it out on them.

Basically, it was any day that I saw what an imperfect parent I am. 
So imperfect. 
So inadequate.

On those days I didn't just believe I was imperfect like all humans are. I believed the lie that I was completely inept at parenting and at life. I remember one particularly hard day crying, "I'm ruining our children!" to my husband.

But the truth is:

-God made me the mom of these kids. On purpose. For their good and for mine. They need me and I need them. 
-God equips us for what He calls us to do.
-God gives wisdom when we ask for it (James 1)
-I haven't ruined them. I'm not ruining them. I love them and love covers a multitude of sins. (I Peter 4:8)
-I must preach to myself more than I listen to myself.
-There are no perfect parents. Ask God to forgive me when I do sin against them. Then, forgive myself and go on.

Go on and send that lie packing back to the pit it came from. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

My Tribe's Vibe: Thankfuls

"Ok. Time to do Thankfuls!"

For many years, this is what we said as soon as we finished our read-a-loud time with our children.

The night was winding down and it was almost bedtime. After reading from the Bible, we'd go around the room and do Thankfuls.

Everybody ended the night saying what they were thankful for. Sometimes it was a pat answer - you could tell their heart wasn't really in it. But a lot of the time, you could see them thinking. You could tell they wanted to be sincere about what they said.

Such a good way to end the night.

It was one of those practices that was in our life for a season, and then gradually faded out - probably because our children were growing up and our nights began to revolve around school and sports activities. We weren't sitting around the family room together any more.

If I let myself, I can sometimes be bummed that those kind of times are no more. But I try not to let myself go there. I must thank God that we enjoyed that for a sweet season and then rejoice in the other gifts that the other seasons of life bring. Every season of life has its good gifts from God.

And, it's not like we aren't thankful any more!

We are! 

Thankful for then. 
Thankful for now.



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Sunday, October 18, 2015

My Tribe's Vibe: Kid of the Week

Years ago, I saw this idea in the home of my good friend and mother extraordinaire, Suzie Evans.

On her refrigerator, she had  a piece of paper with "KID OF THE WEEK" written on it. Underneath it, in bold letters, was one of her children's names. I can't remember all of what that meant for them in their family, because we took some of their ideas and morphed them until we had our own meaning. But as soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted to start it in my family.

How awesome would it be to be a "Kid of the Week?"

In our family, that meant the following:

--You got to sit in the front seat of the car. Biggest. plus. ever. (And, I never had to hear squabbles about who was sitting up front.)

--If there was a decision that they couldn't all agree on, the KOTW decided. Ex: I might give them a choice between McD's & Wendy's for lunch. If we couldn't reach a consensus, KOTW decided.

--KOTW would get their seat of choice in the family room for family reading times or movies.

--If an opportunity presented itself and only one child could participate, KOTW was the child.

--It was kitchen week for them. They'd be the one who got to help in the kitchen if needed. I know. It doesn't seem like a perk, but we were still in the training business. And a big lesson to learn is that with perks, come responsibilities.

I'm really glad I saw I saw that peace promoting piece of paper on The Evans' refrigerator that day. Thanks, Suzie!

Former Kids of the Week :)

Saturday, October 17, 2015

My Tribe's Vibe: The Room

I'm guessing every family has "the room."

The room, that when you tell your child to go there, this is the music that plays in their head.

That room where we go to chat with our children in private.


Ours was the utility room. 

It was pretty fitting that the utility was our room.

We worked on cleaning up some behavior.
We washed a mouth or two out with soap. 
And we tried to not let things spin out of control.
But I hope we never hung a child out to dry.

Did/does your family have "the room?" If so, what was it?

Friday, October 16, 2015

My Tribe's Vibe: Decisions, Decisions

Before I really start this post, I want to say again that all these thoughts - the ones I've shared so far, and the ones I'm about to share - have to do with my vibe with my tribe. You may disagree with my vibe and may have had amazing success with a completely opposite approach from what I've talked about here. There are as many vibes out there as there are parents. I say all that because this post feels a little more dogmatic on my part - even as I write it. I must confess, I'm pretty passionate. But, I kind of can't help it. 

So, here goes nothing.

When my children were little, they did not get to make decisions when it came to food. They ate what we put before them.

I didn't ask them if they wanted it. I don't know that I ever asked my 3 year old what they wanted to eat. Does a 3 year old know what's good for them? No. They are 3.

I had the following conversation with a complete stranger about a month ago at a dentist's office. After we finished talking, I wrote it down as fast as I could so I would remember it as accurately as possible. The conversation started after I asked her if she had any children.

"Yes. I have a daughter who's 3. Actually, she's what you call a threenager. Very strong willed." I interjected here and there knowing nods, because I've had 6 three year olds. She continued with, "This morning was hard. I got her up and gave her goldfish and a poptart. I give her anything she wants for breakfast because, you know, we've got to get out the door. Well, she saw me getting yogurt out of the refrigerator and wanted yogurt. I gave her that and took the goldfish away because she didn't want those anymore. When we got in the car, she started screaming, "I want goldfish!" and she wouldn't calm down. I told her she wasn't going to get any tablet time tonight because of this acting out. The people at daycare tell me they don't know what in the world she's gonna be like when she's a teenager."

I wanted to cry for her. I wanted to tell her it didn't have to be that way. The hard she would have to go through for a few days reigning that stressful morning behavior in would be so worth it. It couldn't be any harder than what she was going through already.

So, for what it's worth, here's my vibe on this:

When you have small children, they obviously have to eat breakfast - whether you do or not (and really, this applies to all meals - I just happen to be picking on breakfast here). So, as parents, it's our responsibility to feed them somewhat nutritiously. We have to plan for that to happen, or it's probably not going to happen. Whether you are a stay at home mom or a working mom, breakfast has to be planned for and it has to happen.

You plan it. You are the mom who knows what is best for that sweet or strong willed or compliant or difficult child. You plan it. We moms get the amazing privilege of introducing a young life to all the amazing tastes that God made! And the options we have now for food combinations are crazy varied. Pinterest alone can supply a parent with more options than they can possibly use! We are responsible for what our children eat. 

They are 3. They don't know what to do or what they should do. 

Do we get tired of doing that sometimes? Of course. Do we still do it? Yes. Do we just survive some days and give our kids pop tarts? Yes. Do we make a habit of it? No.

And, of course, there are some days you are throwing them in the car with that pop tart because the morning got away from you. Should that be the norm?  Do you want to live like that? My answer - my vibe - to that question was/is "No." 

My best mornings were the ones that I thought through the night before. If we had to be out of the house by a certain time, clothes were laid out, breakfast was thought out, and plenty of time was allowed for it. We are a sit down and eat at the table family, so we budgeted time for that. I was not one to ask my children if they were hungry, or ready to eat. Ready or not, they needed to eat before we went where we needed to go, or did what we needed to do. 

I neither had time, inclination or energy to let my children graze and eat when they felt like it.

And, I did not give my children a choice about the menu. I did not run a restaurant. If I cooked eggs, everybody ate eggs. Oatmeal and toast on tap for breakfast? Even the ones who didn't love oatmeal downed a few bites and gobbled up their toast. Some foods are more of an acquired taste. Don't give up on a food (especially one that you know is good for your child) if they, at one point in their young life, turned their nose up at it. Remember...we know more than they do what is best for them!

Before you think I was a complete Attila the Hun, I did learn what foods they were completely averse to and tried to be sensitive to that. There wasn't an aggressive "you'll eat it and like it!" feel to a meal. What we were trying to foster was a thankful, gracious, I'll try new stuff kind of attitude. Our goal was to foster a rhythm in our family life that, at the very least, put us on a course toward peace instead of panic.

It's all such a learning process, right? Our children are learning and we are learning - we are all just one big beautiful learning mess! But in the midst of that mess, we still need to remind ourselves that we do have an edge. We still know more than our kids do about what's best for them. Especially when they are 3. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

My Tribe's Vibe: Breakfast with Dad

This is something our oldest two children missed out on. I could get bummed about that, but then I remind myself of a couple of things.

1. They had a lot of time with us when they were little.
2. God's timing is perfect, and we can rest in that.

And, we just didn't think about this until our third child was a senior.

But in the fall of 2011, Lou started taking our senior out to breakfast on Wednesday mornings. He's enjoyed that time with three seniors since that time.

Every other day of the week, Lou leaves our house by 6:30 am -ish. That's early. Too early for a chatty breakfast with a teenager. Wednesday, however, is Lou's day off, which coincides with what is called "Late Start." On that day, classes at our school don't start until 9 a.m. That time frame allows for a couple of things.

1. Our senior can sleep in an extra hour.
2. Or, our senior can get up at the same time they always do and go have breakfast with dad.

They have all gladly agreed that breakfast with dad is worth missing an extra hour of sleep.

This momma loves seeing them leave together.
This momma loves seeing them come in the house together afterwards.

And this momma loves the donut they usually bring me.

Breakfast with Dad. It's a beautiful thing.

Not breakfast, but best I could do

Hilarious picture of Lou and part of David that I found looking for these others...couldn't resist putting it on here

Faith and her Dad
Elizabeth and her Dad

Another cute pic I found & couldn't resist putting on. Elizabeth and her dad at McDonalds. 1997

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

My Tribe's Vibe: Sit Down for This One

I love it when you do something good for a good reason, and good really does result, but then, something even better results on top of that!

Thoroughly confused?

Well, it all started around the dinner table.

Again, somewhere along the line, we heard how a family excused their children from the dinner table when they were finished eating. The child, when finished with his food, would politely ask, "May I be excused?" After the parents gave their permission, the child would pick up their dishes and put them in the dishwasher and then be on their merry way. 

We decided we liked that plan and ended meals like this for years. The kids would slowly trickle away from the table. And when they were gone, Lou and I would finish any other clean up.

One warm summer evening, (and I would say our kids were mostly young school age) the kids had been excused and were outside playing and we were finishing the cleanup of a particularly messy meal. I hadn't had time to clean as I cooked, so it looked like a bomb had exploded. Even though the kids had brought their dishes over, there was still a lot of work to do. 

I don't know which one of us it was, but one of us said something like, "You know, we'd get this done a lot faster if the kids were in here helping..."

It was like a revelation! How had we not thought of this before?

But how was it going to work with us excusing them as they finished? Were we going to make them stop whatever they had become involved with and come back to help?

We decided that would not be practical nor would it go over well. The only way this clean up idea would work is if everybody stayed seated until everybody was done.

So, the next night, we introduced the concept.

They were thrilled.

But we started anyway. 

This actually was the toughest for our David, who could down his food in seconds, and then was ready to be moving and shaking. Bless his heart. He probably still hears "Sit down, David." in his sleep. But he was by no means alone.  I got huffs, and puffs and blow your mom down looks (and behaviors) on more than one occasion from all of them.

But from that first meal on, we were happily blown away by how quickly we were out of the kitchen after a meal! When you have 16 hands putting food away, wiping off counters and the table, loading the dishwasher, and washing what can't go in the dishwasher, it doesn't take long to be done. Many hands truly do make light work. Throw a little cleanup music on, and you've got a party!

Well, sort of.

Of course, there were the moments of one kid reporting on how another kid was being a slacker. Those moments were always fun to referee. Good grief! No rest for the weary. C'mon people. Let's just all get this done with a smile on our faces! 

When this stay seated until everybody's done was first instituted, it was strictly with the after dinner cleanup in mind. But I must say that we gained an even bigger benefit than that. 

We sat around the table longer as a family. And talked. We just shared life together a little longer. Sure, sometimes the last slow eater had holes bored in them from faster eaters who were ready to get on with something else, but for the most part, it was precious time. 

So our good for a good reason? Everybody stay seated at the table until everybody's done so everybody can help clean up.

Our good result? Faster - way faster - cleanup

Our better result? More family time together.

This makes me want to stand up and say "Yay!!"

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

My Tribe's Vibe: A Table Blessing

Before we eat a meal, our family thanks the Lord.

And we sometimes take a picture :) Easter 2014

Most of the time, my husband says the blessing, but each one of us will randomly volunteer to say it.

I like that time. To pause and remember how God has graciously provided for us and to thank him for it - to acknowledge that we know all that we have and enjoy comes from his hand - is not small.

Granted, sometimes we hear a blessing prayed without really being thankful. We are basically waiting for the A-men so we can Dig-in.

But hopefully, more often than not, we do listen and pray along and truly are thankful to our great, good, holy God. Accompanying that attentiveness however, there must be a reverence with which we approach God. He is not Joe Blow from Kokomo. 

He is God.

We tried to pass that emphasis along to our children. And I'm glad that reverence and thankfulness can hold hands with joy and smiles and songs. So every once in a while, we'd change up our table blessings and sing them as a family. When our children were young, they loved this. We had a couple that we did, but I'll just share one here. 

I kind of can't believe I'm putting my singing voice on the internet, but I am, because this song is sweet and true and fun and starts your meal off focused on our great, good God and with smiles all around.

You and your young ones are singing big truths about God.

God is great.
God is good.
Let us thank him for our food.
We're gonna thank him morning, noon, and night,
We're gonna thank him 'cause he's out of sight.
Amen. (chuchuchuuu, chuchchuchuuu chuchcuchuuu) Amen ((chuchuchuuu, chuchuchuuu chuchuchuuu)

[I have no idea if that is how you write those sounds! Also, I don't know who wrote this blessing. We learned it from our good friends, Sky and Louise Forrister. Thanks, guys]

Monday, October 12, 2015

My Tribe's Vibe: TV Dinners

A lot of family life centers around food.

At least, ours does. The Harris crew loves to eat. We love to talk about food and plan what we are going to eat next. We love to cook.
Major bike wrecks don't even keep us from cooking! (2012)

We are all about it.

Because of that, the next few posts are going to be food/meal time related.

I grew up in a home where we ate our meals as a family around the table in our kitchen. I have good memories of that time. Lots of southern home cooking and lots of good conversation happened around that kitchen table. And one of the boundaries in place during my childhood that fostered at least the good conversation part of meal times came from my dad. He had one simple rule concerning meals - no TV.

I don't know if I ever thanked him for that rule, but I wish I could.

When Lou and I got married, we decided to adopt that same rule. Even before kids, we'd turn the TV off and sit down together for our meals. (Of course, there were times we didn't, but this was/is the prevailing custom in our family).

So after kids, it just continued.

And after kids, meals became more hectic for sure. Our big joke when the kids were little was that as soon as the "Amen" of the blessing was said, both of us jumped up to get something else that was needed. I'm smiling remembering that crazy time.

But we didn't have the distraction of the TV or the added noise of the TV.

If this is something you've never tried, but think you might like to, of course I would encourage you in that! It may feel awkward at first. But I hope you push through! :) It's worth it.

And today, with DVRs, missing TV shows because it is time to eat is not even an issue.

However, today, with TVs on during meals, missing good conversation is most assuredly an issue.